Last summer, Covington rockers Frontier Folk Nebraska took over Northern Kentucky’s Southgate House Revival for two nights to record a live album in front of the band’s dedicated area fans. Almost immediately afterward, the foursome (singer/guitarist Michael Hensley, drummer Mark Becknell, bassist Matt McCormick and guitarist Travis Talbert) hit the road, helping to solidify the band’s live reputation with shows across the Midwest. Touring duties should only increase in the coming months (dates, in fact, are booked through the end of May so far) as FFN releases the fruits of those August Southgate sessions in the form of the 18-track album, This One’s for the Kid in the Back: Live at the Southgate House Revival.
The band celebrates the new release with a hometown show on the album’s release date, this Friday, performing — of course — at the Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com). Tickets are $5. Dayton, Ohio’s Manray opens the show at 9:30 p.m.
Featuring songs from all three of Frontier Folk Nebraska’s self-released full-lengths (beginning with 2009’s Pearls and focusing fairly heavily on 2014’s jaw-dropper, Frontier F**k Nebraska), This One’s for the Kid in the Back should help put the band’s music in front of a much wider audience. The album is being released through Old Flame Records, a respected independent label founded in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 2008 by Rob Mason, a Miami University grad (and former WOXY intern) who has since relocated to Cincinnati, bringing the label with him. Old Flame has been home to releases by widely acclaimed Indie Rock acts like Cloud Nothings, Potty Mouth, YAWN, Shark?, Dead Confederate and Total Babes (the imprint’s most recent release was the well-received Brief Spirit by on-the-rise Nashville, Tenn. Dream Pop duo Keeps). Since moving the label to Cincinnati, Mason seems to have embraced the city’s rich local music scene; besides FFN, Cincinnati bands Automagik and Harbour are now part of the Old Flame roster.
Old Flame’s resources and connections (the label regularly hosts showcases at the South By Southwest and CMJ conferences/fests and is distributed through the far-reaching Redeye Distribution) have already pulled extra attention to This One’s for the Kid in the Back, which will also be available through frontierfolknebraska.bandcamp.com. Relix magazine’s site premiered lead-off track “Buffalo Summer” in February, while music site The Wild Honey Pie debuted another tune in early March. Glide Magazine’s site recently premiered a stream of the entire album, writing that the band seems “intent on a sound that is as reminiscent of early ’90s Grunge as it is of AltCountry, with flourishes of Punk shimmering through occasionally.”
Longtime fans of FFN will, of course, be familiar with everything on This One’s for the Kid in the Back. But the live-in-front-of-an-audience re-recording of the songs is well worth a listen. Not that FFN’s studio albums are over-produced or super slicked-up — each has a very organic sound — but the live recordings possess that extra magical energy that comes from playing in front of a familiar and supportive audience. The performances are flawless and spirited and the production is raw but crisp, allowing the power and soulfulness of the band’s sound — which is a unique but natural progression from the earnest, rootsy-but-still-rocking vibes of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young and Crazy Horse to My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Gaslight Anthem — to bleed through the speakers.
A live album might seem like an unconventional first move for a group that is stepping up to the broader platform that Old Flame provides. But this is the non-Folk/non-Nebraskan group that has unwaveringly stood behind a moniker that, endearingly, puts them in the “misleading band name” hall of fame, alongside The Birthday Party, The New Pornographers and Eagles of Death Metal. And the execution of This One’s for the Kid in the Back actually makes it a perfect introduction to music fans unfamiliar with Frontier Folk Nebraska. It vividly showcases the band’s fantastic songwriting, pushes the inherent vitality of the musicians’ chemistry to the forefront and leaves no doubt that FFN is a kick-ass live band not to be missed.
You can order/stream/download This One’s for the Kid in the Back through the group’s Bandcamp page here.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]